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Wednesday, 6 April 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy - Eastern Dimension - Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy - Southern Dimension

  Hélène Flautre (Verts/ALE).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, the popular movements in the Southern Mediterranean have clearly highlighted weaknesses in our European Neighbourhood Policy.

As I see it, the problem lies not so much with the Neighbourhood Policy objectives, which are set out in Articles 8 and 21 of the Treaty of Lisbon on promoting and respecting human rights and democracy – which are also social objectives – but rather in our flawed implementation of those objectives. Consequently, we need to learn lessons for the future. This is what is being done in the current work on reviewing the policy. The first issue, which was raised by Mr Schulz, is our ability to provide real and effective support for civil society in all neighbouring countries, irrespective of their importance in terms of trade or strategy, or their political situation.

When neighbouring countries are in a state of transition, this is extremely useful and necessary. It is also undeniably easier than when they are labouring under the yoke of an authoritarian regime, as is the case in Syria, but this is a challenge, an issue, that we need to learn to address effectively. I believe that we will also need to learn to discuss these matters with our partners, not only in forums dedicated to human rights, such as sub-committees, but also at the highest political level. Yet, at the same time, we must ensure that sub-committee agendas do not become disconnected from the situation, as has happened in the past, or fail to feed into other bodies, such as the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA).

I support the communication on a partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean, which I believe is pivotal. It seems to me that we should also add a separate target for social justice and combating inequalities. Naturally, we will also need to rethink our understanding of mobility in the Mediterranean region. I think that the mobility partnership is a positive feature, but we will also need to learn how to promote the benefits of this mobility for individuals who travel between the Northern and Southern Mediterranean and for both the host nation and the country of origin. We will also need to factor these changing movements into basic rights for those who cross the Mediterranean and settle in Europe.

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